As regular readers of this blog will know, whenever anything breaks around our house, our first instinct is always to look for a way to fix it. Over the years, we've repaired a book that lost its cover, patched ripped jeans, created a new stand for a broken desk fan, restrung our old Roman shades, and done numerous repairs to Brian's bike. In most cases, this is an ecofrugal no-brainer, since a DIY repair is both much cheaper than buying a replacement and much greener than throwing an old item into the landfill and buying a whole new one when only one part is broken.
However, sometimes we find we can't fix things on our own, and that's when the repair or replace dilemma rears its ugly head. Is it worth paying someone to fix it, or would it be a better value in the long run to just replace it?
For some people, it turns out, there's a third option. In my latest Money Crashers post, I discuss the new and growing trend of Repair Cafes: regular gatherings where neighbors come together to pool their fix-it skills. So, for instance, this month you could bring in your bicycle and get help from a local fixer to repair the brakes, and next month you could show up to help another neighbor clean the clogged print heads on their printer. Just like Freecycle, these exchanges don't have to be tit-for-tat; everyone helps out where they can or gets help as needed, and no one keeps score. And also like Freeycle, everything is free of charge (though most Repair Cafes will accept small donations to help keep them running).
In the article, I explain how Repair Cafes work, what kinds of things you can get fixed there, how to find one in your area, and how to start one of your own if you can't find one. Read it all here: How Repair Cafés & Fix-It Groups Can Save You Money and Avoid Waste